Yesterday I spent the whole day auditioning kids. With the help casting Director Catherine Arton, and her two helpers, Sammy and Janna, we managed to get through an astonishing 65 children.
We worked in small groups, which Sammy would take through their paces with fun and games ‘warm up’ routines. In this first stage, the real extroverts began to shine. Mums and Dads were held in another room next door, so Catherine and I rarely had to deal directly with them – this was a real advantage as just keeping focussed on the job was hard enough without having to deal with proud parents.
Once warmed up the kids all did a little piece to camera, starting with their name, age and agent. Then we had a little chat about the film and the character, and they did a little performance.
Things I noticed when casting…
- Having a team to deal with this kind of day is more essential than with adult actors as kids need warming up, while mums and dads need to be looked after too. This must be a slick machine.
- I would say that about 85% of the kids were very good and had some experience. They were mostly professionals though. This was a surprisingly high percentage to me.
- There was a clear ‘self awakening’ for kids around nine years old. That is, the younger ones were very much children and unaware of the ‘self’ where slightly older ones had become self aware and were more conscious of how they might look – which of course impacted on their performance sometimes. On the whole, the younger the kid, the less focussed, the less polished but the more truthful. The older the kid, and then you could get anything from quite shy to a full on ‘performance’.
- Making copious notes is essential. After seeing 65 kids, faces merge into a single one. Of course, you will also have your video to spool back and look at which helps.
- The warm up with Sammy was very important as it got them moving and very much at ease with us all in the room.
Onward and upward!